Nacogdoches ISD student who could not graduate, learns English t - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Nacogdoches ISD student who could not graduate, learns English to get a degree

ESL classes have helped Mario learn English (Source: KTRE Staff) ESL classes have helped Mario learn English (Source: KTRE Staff)
Mario plans to apply to Angelina College to study art (Source: KTRE Staff) Mario plans to apply to Angelina College to study art (Source: KTRE Staff)
Six years ago, Mario couldn't speak or write English at all (Source: KTRE Staff) Six years ago, Mario couldn't speak or write English at all (Source: KTRE Staff)
NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) -

High school graduations across the state are around the corner, but for one East Texas student, the dream of graduating is one he never thought would come true.

Mario Saldivar first came to Nacogdoches from Mexico in 2007 after he says his parents decided they wanted to learn English and "live the American Dream."

However, when he got here, he realized that fulfilling his dreams were nearly impossible.

"It was hard. It was really, really hard. During school, I guess, people looking at you and wouldn't say anything. They don't like you. So, it was really hard," Saldivar said.

Since the sixth grade, Saldivar has been taking English as a Second Language courses at Nacogdoches ISD, hoping to pass his hardest class: English. He said not knowing a lick of English when he moved here was tough.

"You would be sitting there and looking at the teacher and can't do anything because you don't know what's going on in the class. It's like…try to understand something that you don't know. It's like being from a different planet," Saldivar said.

For six years, Saldivar said he kept at it.  His teacher, Katherine Whitbeck, says over the years Saldivar has used to learn the English language dictionary to his advantage. However, last year, Saldivar learned that he would not be graduating with his friends because he failed his Texas State-Mandated Taks English/Language Arts Exam.

"It was kind of sad. I don't know. It was a really, really bad feeling," Saldivar said.

Despite not being able to graduate, Saldivar continued to learn. Whitbeck said every single morning Saldivar came to the school and practiced his reading and writing.

"He can be here four-to-five hours at least. Every day since December he has come up here," Whitbeck said.

She says Saldivar never gave up on his dream to go to college.

"All the time a positive attitude and all this time he's working at Sport Shack, a part-time job, so he's fulfilling his responsibilities and he just hasn't quit. He did not quit," Whitbeck said.

Saldivar's determination paid off, and this semester he was finally able to graduate.

Saldivar says he still has a lot to learn, but is applying to Angelina College to study art. He says he is so excited to be able to go to college and learn more about the English language.

If you have a survivors story to share or know of someone who has overcome a life challenge, send an email to mreed@ktre.com.

Copyright 2014 KTRE. All rights reserved.

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